Bombardment of Rotterdam


German aerial bombardment of Rotterdam on 14 May 1940, after which the Netherlands surrendered to the occupying forces.

Map of Rotterdam showing the situation in 1940 and the post-war rebuilding plans. The yellow line marks the area that was distoyed by the bombardment of Rotterdam on 14 May 1940.

Gemeentewerken Rotterdam, afd. kartografie, 1955; Documents collection JHM

All rights reserved

In the morning of 14 May 1940, the German occupying forces gave the Netherlands an ultimatum: surrender, or else the city of Rotterdam would be bombed. While the Dutch army command was negotiating, heavy bombers flew towards the city. At 1.30 p.m., much of the city centre was reduced to ruins. Over eight hundred people were killed and raging fires broke out. The Germans threatened to bomb Utrecht, The Hague, Haarlem and Amsterdam next. General Winkelman, supreme commander of the Dutch army, signed the capitulation that same day.

By the authority of the Dutch government in London, the province of Zeeland remained outside the capitulation agreement. The army, augmented by two French divisions, stood its ground for a few more days. On 17 May, Middelburg was bombed, after which the province of Zeeland also capitulated.

All rights reserved